Monthly Archives: December 2011

  • Countdown to 12/20/11

    Here is today’s countdown coming from what is called the Queen of the Himalayas (Mount Everest pictures later!).

    4. Earth-size exoplanets

    With better senstivity of telescopes, it is now possible to observe Earth-size exoplanets! However, we need bigger telescopes to observe their atmospheric spectra and figure out whether there are any signs of life.

    3. Dust avalanches on Mars

    Mars has a very thin atmosphere, and anything falling from space directly impacts its surface without much hindrance. Recently, it has been observed that shock waves due to meteorite impacts can trigger avalanches…

    2. Comet Lovejoy survives

    A heroic tale of survival. Comet Lovejoy’s trajectory was so

  • Countdown to 12/23/2011

    Hey everyone! After a sprint to get a paper submitted, I was pretty exhausted last night and fell asleep on the couch with my laptop on my lap. Thus, no countdown to today until today.

    3. There’s some good stuff in Science again this week, including a few reports from this year’s Fall AGU meeting on climate change modeling (more complex models, same results) and reports of a core and magnetic field for the über-asteroid Vesta. There’s are also perspectives and three articles of interest… one on Voyager detecting emissions from our Milky Way galaxy as it leaves our solar system,

  • Countdown to 12/16/2011…

    3… Space X made some news today. First, there was an announcement that a new initiative funded by Paul Allen would lead to commercial space tourism, all based around a plan to launch a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket after dropping it from altitude with a plane. And on a separate endeavor, SpaceX announced that they’re going to combine their next two ISS docking demonstration missions. Some that have waaay more knowledge about spaceflight than I do remain skeptical about this company’s ability to do things so inexpensively. That said, they keep exceeding expectations, and I hope they continue to do

  • Super Earths, Higgs and Black holes

    3. What’s with Super Earths?
    The ever increasing number of exoplanets is putting the models of planet formation to test. A new class of planets, named “super-Earths” have emerged. These planets, about a third of the observed ones, have sizes between the Earth and Neptune.
    Here is the story.
    2. Higgs?
    I spent the whole of Tuesday, attending talks and discussing physics with colleagues here and at CERN. It was a special occasion since we had a great discussion on the present “state of the universe” with four of the most distinguished physicists of our times, Kip Thorne, Jim Peebles,

  • Countdown for 12/12/11

    The Countdown for Monday 12/11/11

    4. New global climate deal is a mixed bag but a step in the right direction. The United Nations climate change conference in Durban South Africa concluded on Friday Dec. 10th, reaching a deal that is significant for its inclusiveness (194 countries signed on) but also rather toothless. The agreement extends the Kyoto Protocol for several years, but includes no binding commitments for reductions of greenhouse gasses. Given the current global economic climate it may be the best that could have been achieved. The fact is, we are a global species

  • (Belated) Countdown for 12/10/11

    Sorry for the delay! I spent the day travelling back from the AGU Meeting in San Francisco. Somehow I managed to miss the most exciting talks but had many exciting conversations with friends old and new. Fortunately, Shawn covered some of that ground. Here are some more items, as well as some news that didn’t emerge from the Bay Area last week…

    4. Going, going… But not quite gone. Voyager 1 reaches a new milestone, now on the cusp of interstellar space.

    3. Martian Drywall. Opportunity discovers a vein of gypsum – calcium sulfate – indicating ancient water flowed through fractures